Stellafane 'Little Man' - click for Stellafane Home Page Convention Header

2009 Convention Schedule, Activities & Events

This page contains an Overall Schedule of Events, and details about the following Activities and Events:

ATM Mirror Grinding Demo Saturday Technical Talks Children's Activities
ATM Short Talks Beginner Talks Horseshoe Pitching Contest
Swap Tables Jeanne Krzywicki Library Museum of Telescope Making
Friday Evening Informal Talks Saturday Evening Program Raffle
Imaging Seminar Hartness House History of Astronomy Workshop

Overall Schedule of Events

Clink links to go to details about the selected event.   [PDF Full Schedule]  [PDF Talks Only]

Color Key

 New to Astronomy Event

 New Telescope Maker Event

 Advanced Telescope Maker Event

 Children's Event

 Telescope Competition

 ATM Museum

Location Key

[McGregor] In or near the McGregor Observatory, Stellafane East.

[Pavilion] In the Flanders Pavilion, Stellafane East.

[Clubhouse] In or near the Pink Stellafane Clubhouse on Breezy Hill.

Thursday, Aug 13th

[HH]9:00 am-  4:30 pm History of Astronomy Workshop

3:00 pm- 10:00 pm Early Entry (with Early Entry Permit)

Friday, August 14th

9:00 am Registration Gate Opens (Normal Entry)

10:00 am-  6:00 pm Shuttle Bus operates

[McGregor]11:00 am- 12:00 pm Astronomy Activities for Kids

[Pavilion]12:00 pm-  6:00 pm Mirror Grinding Demo

[Pavilion]1:00 pm ATM Short Talk

[near Pavilion]1:30 pm Horseshoe Pitching

[Clubhouse]2:00 pm- 5:00 pm Reg. for Optical Competition

[Pavilion]2:00 pm ATM Short Talk

[Pavilion]3:00 pm ATM Short Talk

[Pavilion]4:00 pm ATM Short Talk

[McGregor]3:00 pm-  4:00 pm Astronomy Activities for Kids

[Hartness House (off-site)]3:00 pm- 6:00 pm Porter/Hartness ATM Museum open

[behind Clubhouse]4:00 pm- 5:00 pm Solar System Walk

[McGregor]5:00 pm Stellafane for Beginners

[Hartness House (off-site)]5:00 pm Alan Bean Dinner Separate Tickets Required

[near Clubhouse]5:00 pm- 8:00 pm Registration for Optical Competition

[Ash Dome]8:00 pm Imaging Seminar

[Pavilion]8:30 pm Informal Talks begin

[McGregor]9:00 pm Harrington on Binoculars

[near Clubhouse]10:00 pm Optical Competition Begins

10:00 pm Registration Gate Closes

Saturday, August 15th

7:00 am Registration Gate Opens

[Northeast corner of Stellafane East]7:00 am-  5:00 pm Swap Tables open

[near Clubhouse]8:00 am-  9:30 am Registration for Telescope Mechanical Competition

9:00 am-  5:00 pm Shuttle Bus operates

[Pavilion]9:30 am-  1:00 pm Mirror Grinding Demo

[near Clubhouse]10:00 am-  1:00 pm Telescope Mechanical Competition

[meet at Clubhouse]10:30 am Telescope Field Walk

[McGregor]11:00 am- 12:00 pm Astronomy Activities for Kids

[meet at Turret Telescope]11:30 am Tour of the Porter Turret Telescope

[behind Clubhouse]12:30 pm1:30 pm Solar System Walk

[McGregor]1:30 pm Dipper Full of Stars: A Tour of the Night Sky

[Pavilion]1:00 pm-  5:00 pm Technical Talks

[McGregor]3:00 pm-  4:00 pm Astronomy Activities for Kids

[McGregor]5:00 pm An Introduction to Telescope for all Ages

[near Clubhouse]5:00 pm-  8:00 pm Registration for Optical Competition
  (Only if the Optical Competition is clouded out on Friday)

Amphitheater (Pavilion if bad weather)7:00 pm Evening Program

[Ash Dome]8:00 pm Imaging Seminar

[McGregor]10:00 pm Discover & Enjoy the Sky

[near Clubhouse]10:00 pm Optical Competition Begins
  (Only if the Optical Competition is clouded out on Friday)

Sunday, August 16th

8:00 am- 12:00 pm Convention Cleanup

[Hartness House (off-site)]9:00 am- 12:00 pm Porter/Hartness ATM Museum open

Amateur Telescope Making and
Mirror Grinding Demonstration

There will be a HANDS ON mirror making demonstration Friday from Noon until 6 pm in the Flanders Pavilion. Gain first-hand experience working on mirrors at every stage of grinding, polishing and testing. Experienced ATMs will help explain each step of the process. The demonstration will continue Saturday 9:30 a.m. until 1 pm

ATM Short Talks

There will be a series of short talks on various ATM topics Friday in the Flanders Pavilion, every hour on the hour, during the ATM demo starting at 1 p.m. The purpose of these talks will be to describe, in detail, the procedures that will be demonstrated during the ATM demo and to introduce beginner ATMs various introductory subjects. Please check back later for the titles of the talks as the convention approaches.

These talks are in the Flanders Pavilion and typically last about 30 minutes.

1:00 pm ATM Short Talk: To be announced

2:00 pm ATM Short Talk: To be announced

3:00 pm ATM Short Talk: To be announced

4:00 pm ATM Short Talk: To be announced

Imaging Seminar [Advanced Amateurs]

Imaging with a Mallincam Color Hyper Plus (MCHP)
by Neil Fleming, Friday & Saturday Nights, if clear, 8:00 p.m. - ???       [PDF version]
Near the Ash Dome, to the South of the McGregor Observatory in the main observing field.

A noted astrophotographer, specializing in the capture of very high-quality images from light polluted locations, such as those in the Boston area, Neil Fleming will give a demonstration of his work with the Mallincam Color Hyper Plus video camera. The Mallincam is a sensitive video camera used for greatly increasing the effective aperture of your scope by allowing the capture of incoming light over multiple seconds. With settings for 7, 14, 28 and 56 seconds, The Mallincam can capture, and display, objects many times fainter than you can see through your eyepiece!

Although most observers stick to a real-time visual display of objects, it is possible to capture incoming exposures, and either stack and process them later, or have software gather images as they come in and stack them in real time! Fleming will set up his equipment and demonstrate the use of the MCHP, the real-time capture of images, as well as image post-processing.

Images taken by Neil Fleming at this workshop:
Double Cluster





Veil Nebula

Saturday Technical Talk Schedule [Advanced Amateurs]

The purpose of the Saturday afternoon “technical talks” is to provide relatively advanced amateurs a forum to discuss various projects that other relatively advanced amateurs are currently working on. While everyone is welcome, of course, please do not be surprised to hear a lot of astronomical jargon, hear about some very complex technical issues and maybe even see a few confusing equations. If you have a suggestion for a subject for a technical during an upcoming convention please click here.

The Saturday afternoon program begins in the Flanders Pavilion at 1 p.m.  [PDF version]

  • "Autocollimation Testing"
    by Richard Parker, 1:00 – 1:45

    Autocollimation testing provides an easy to interpret null test for a parabolic mirror, or any optical system that brings parallel incoming light to a focus. The test is fast and accurate. Autocollimation testing is not new, but is being used or considered by an increasing number of ATM’s today as the interest in better telescope optics and group mirror making workshops is increasing. This talk will show the test concept and discuss: the requirements for an autocollimation flat mirror, important test bench features, how good the test is, and recognizing proper alignment of the test optics, and testing completed telescope assemblies. The similar Hindle sphere test for hyperboloids will also be shown. Whether you are a new or seasoned user of the autocollimation test, you will not want to miss this talk.

  • "Recreating Galileo’s Original Telescopes to High Precision Museum Quality
     and the Significance of these Instruments"

    by Jim and Rhoda Morris, 2:00 – 2:45

    There are only two known telescopes remaining of the 50 or more that Galileo built. This presentation will describe our process for replicating high precision museum quality replicas of both the leather covered "presentation" telescope and the paper covered "working" telescope housed at the IMSS in Florence Italy. We will cover our processes for researching the known information on these instruments, highlight discrepancies and describe their resolution by our visiting the originals to make our own measurements and observations. These replicas are displayed at IMSS and other museum exhibits in many countries especially as celebrations of the International Year of Astronomy. We will also discuss how these telescopes are not just optical levers but truly magnificent instruments that serve as excellent examples of 17th century technology and reflect the qualities that are part of our creative heritage and human condition.

  • "Exploring the Moon: The Apollo Astronaut Experience"
    by Andrew Chaikin, 2:45 – 3:30

    Andrew Chaikin, author of "A Man on the Moon," will discuss the experiences of the Apollo lunar astronauts as they became the first humans to explore another world. His newest book, "Voices from the Moon," written with Victoria Kohl, features excerpts from his extensive interviews with 23 of the 24 Apollo lunar astronauts. Chaikin's talk will be illustrated with recent, high-quality scans of mission photography.

  • "A Large Refracting Coronagraph for Solar Coronal Studies"
    by Steven Tomczyk, 3:30 – 4:15

    The detailed study of magnetic fields in the solar corona requires a telescope with an objective of at least 1.5 meters, a very low level of scattered light, and a large field-of-view. We believe that these requirements are best met by a coronagraph with a singlet lens objective which we are now proposing to build. We will discuss science drivers for the large coronagraph and present the results of engineering studies which show that a refracting telescope of this size is feasible with current technology.

  • "Construction of a Maksutov-Newtonian as a First Maksutov, and Why"
    by Gerry Logan, 4:15 – 5:00

    Gerry Logan, who is a long time professional optician and amateur telescope maker, who specializes in complicated telescope designs, will discuss the benefits of constructing a Maksutov telescope and the specific benefits of the Maksutov-Newtonian design.

Beginner Talks

There will be several talks during the convention which will be geared for people who are new to amateur astronomy and the Stellafane convention: [PDF version]

  • Fri 4:00 pm and Sat 12:30pm: Solar System Walk behind the pink Clubhouse by Tom Gorka
    To illustrate the vast size of outer space, the Springfield Telescope Makers constructed a scale model of the solar system, based on the Sun being 12 inches in diameter. At that scale, the Earth would be approximately 1/10 of an inch in diameter and 107 feet from the Sun. Jupiter would be 1.2 inches in diameter and approximately 560 feet from the Sun.

    The “Solar System Walk” starts up behind the Pink Clubhouse and proceeds down the road going towards the Stellafane camping area. At the appropriate distance, from the scale model of the Sun, there are stations with the appropriate planet, built to scale, and a short description of each planet. The Solar System walk can be taken at any time during the convention. However a guided walk is available at the times mentioned above when Thomas Gorka will provide additional information about the “Solar System Walk” and each particular planet. The walk takes approximately 3/4 of an hour, if you walk all the way to the planet Neptune, with a total distance of 3232 ft, or a little over ½ of a mile.
  • Fri 5 pm: Stellafane for Beginners in the McGregor Observatory by Kim Keegan & Dennis Cassia
    Are you familiar with these terms: “The Pink”, “Tent Talks” or “The Turret”? If not, or if this is your first Stellafane or if you are retuning and want to learn more about who the Springfield telescope Makers are, as well as what is going on during this convention, then this presentation is for you. Topics include, but are not limited to: A short history of Stellafane, a description of our site including the buildings and landmarks, descriptions of the scheduled talks and activities, services available at Stellafane, local services off site, etc. in addition to answering any questions you may have about the convention.
  • Fri 9 pm: Harrington on Binoculars by Phil Harrington in the McGregor Observatory
    Binoculars are a great way to enjoy the beauty of the summer sky, whether you are a beginner or a veteran stargazer. In this presentation, Phil Harrington will define several binocular-related terms and discuss consumer tips to help the audience weed out astronomically worthy binoculars from the vast ocean of models currently sold worldwide. Afterward, join Phil outside for a tour of the night sky through your binoculars.
  • Sat 11 am: Tour of the Russell Porter Turret Telescope by Brad Vietje
    meet at the Turret Telescope
    Located at the summit of Breezy Hill, immediately to the North of the Stellafane Pink Clubhouse, The Russell Porter Turret Telescope is one of three known “turret telescopes”. The primary advantage of this type of telescope is that the observers are inside of the observatory building, protected from the cold temperatures of long winter nights and biting mosquitoes of summer nights. Brad Vietje, member and past president of the Springfield Telescope Makers, will talk about the history of the Turret Telescope, demonstrate how the telescope is used and observe the Sun, if the weather permits and the Sun obliges by displaying some sunspots.
  • Sat 10:30 am: Telescope Field Walk by John Vogt and Carl Malikowski
    meet in front of the Pink Clubhouse
    During the “Telescope Field Walk”, John Vogt, David Britz and David Groski, all experienced Amateur Telescope Makers, will guide small groups through the fields around the Pink Clubhouse, where the telescopes that will be participating in the mechanical competition will be set up. They will describe the various types of optical designs and mounting configurations that will be on display, point out the subtle details that go into award winning telescopes and be available to answer your questions.
  • Sat 1:30 pm: Dipper Full of Stars: A Tour of the Night Sky by Richard Sanderson
    in the McGregor Observatory
    Using stunning images of constellations, planets, and celestial objects, Richard Sanderson will lead an interpretive tour of the summer nighttime sky. He will describe how the sky appears to move throughout the night and from season to season, and explain the significance of the North Star. He will speculate about life on other worlds and show many of the prominent summer constellations. The presentation is aimed at beginners of all ages.
  • Sat 5 pm: An Introduction to Telescopes for All Ages by Sue & Alan French
    in the McGregor Observatory.
    Adults and youngsters often become interested in astronomy and acquiring a telescope for exploring the heavens. With the plethora of telescopes on the market, buying your first telescope, or a telescope for a child, can be intimidating. In this program Sue and Alan French will cover telescope basics (types, mounts, and eyepieces), telescopes suitable for children, and introduce you to observing and finding sights in the night sky.
  • Sat 10 pm: Discover and Enjoy the Sky by John Briggs at the McGregor Observatory.
    The beauty of the night sky is a driving motivation for telescope making, the Stellafane convention and astronomy in general. John W. Briggs, a physics & astronomy instructor at Clay Science Center, will show how to become oriented in the sky using popular references, recent new software and other tools of astronomy. The presentation will be appropriate for all ages. Weather permitting, after the program the group will use the historic 5-inch Alvan Clark refractor, originally installed at Abbot Academy in 1875.

Children's Activities

There will be four 1-hour astronomy workshops for children held in the McGregor Observatory during the 2009 Stellafane Convention (Friday, August 14TH at 11:00 a.m. & 3:00 p.m. and Saturday, August 15TH at 11:00 a.m. & 3:00 p.m.). These astronomy workshops have been held at the Stellafane convention since 1995. Led by Dr. Kristine Larsen, of Central CT State University and member of the Springfield Telescope Makers, each of the four 1-hour workshops includes several activities geared for children ages 5 - 12. Younger children are welcome but will need help from a parent. Each workshop has a different astronomical theme. Please inquire at the McGregor Observatory for the theme for each specific workshop. Due to space limitations, each workshop is limited to 25 children on a first-come basis. [PDF version]

Horseshoe Pitching Contest

The 12th-Annual Stellafane horseshoe pitching contest is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Friday near the McGregor Observatory. There will be adult and kid’s competitions. “Astro” prizes will be awarded.

Jeanne Krzywicki Library

The Jeanne Krzywicki Library, in the McGregor Observatory, will be open throughout the convention, unless the room is otherwise occupied by convention events.

Friday Evening Informal Talks

Friday evening, August 14th, at 8:30 p.m. Bob Morse, of the Springfield Telescope Makers, will conduct the informal talks in the Flanders Pavilion.

If you wish to contribute a short talk during this session, you must submit a brief description of your planned presentation with your registration payment or by e-mail here. Talks are limited to 10 minutes and 20 slides. The time limit will be strictly enforced! A 35-mm slide projector, overhead projector, VCR and a digital projector will be available for your use. Note that if you plan to use the digital projector you must bring your own laptop.

The Famous Stellafane Raffle

Help support the convention and have fun by participating in our raffle. Thousands of dollars in prizes, including books from Willmann-Bell and eyepieces from Televue, are provided yearly by gracious contributors. Tickets are available at the T-shirt table and from designated STM members roaming the grounds. Your dollar goes a long way!

Donor questions?  Email to

Saturday Evening Program

The evening program will begin at 7:00 p.m. Saturday in the hillside amphitheater. Bob Morse, of the Springfield Telescope Makers, will be master of ceremonies.

  • Greetings, announcements and raffle drawing.
  • Stellafane Shadowgram: by Bert Willard, past president, club historian and author of the Russell Porter biography.
  • Presentation of telescope competition awards.
  • Stellafane Keynote Talk: Captain Alan Bean, the fourth person to walk on the moon, will talk about his experiences at NASA as part of the Apollo and Skylab programs.

Porter/Hartness Museum of Amateur Telescope Making

The Porter/Hartness Museum of Amateur Telescope Making is located in the underground rooms at the Hartness House Inn. Visit the museum on Friday from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm or Sunday from 9:00 am to Noon. Admission is free. Map & Directions. Many of the items on display are by or about Russell W. Porter, including the Springfield and Garden telescopes. His artwork traces his arctic exploration years to his work on the 200" Palomar telescope, culminating in his famous cutaway drawings. Other items of interest include early 'scopes and mirror making parts. The Hartness turret telescope, with its 10" Brashear objective may also be inspected.

Swap Tables

The Swap Tables (located at the NORTHEAST edge of the main camping/parking area on Stellafane East are provided to give amateurs an opportunity to trade, buy or sell their surplus astronomical and telescope related items. They operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 15th.


At the January, 2005 meeting, the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. clarified its policy regarding commercialism and Swap Table sales at the Stellafane convention. For the sake of historical continuity, to preserve the uniqueness of the Stellafane convention and to encourage conventioneers to build their own instruments, the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. do not allow commercial exhibits or sales, of any kind, at the Stellafane convention. All sales must comply, in concept, with the above objective but are also specifically subject to the following criteria:

  1.  Only surplus astronomical, telescope and telescope making related items may be sold.
  2.  Each person will be allowed 16 square feet of table or ground space.
  3.  Items which have the appearance of being specifically purchased or manufactured for sale at the Swap Tables may not be sold.
  4.  All sales must take place within the designated Swap Table area only between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., the Saturday of the Stellafane convention.

The Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. may choose to grant a limited exception to the above policies to astronomy related organizations for their fundraising. Any request for an exemption must be made, in writing, at least one month prior to the convention. If granted, the President of the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. will notify the requesting organization in writing.

Any member of the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. has the authority to determine whether a party is in compliance with the established regulations. Any person who is found to be in violation of the stated policies will be required to comply. Failing compliance, the offending party will be asked to leave the convention and may be escorted from the premises by convention security.

The Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. encourages those with questions regarding this policy to contact the Club via e-mail to the Convention Mailbox. During the convention, any questions regarding this policy, the appropriateness of items being displayed, or any information being disseminated should be directed to a member of the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. [PDF version]

Back to the 2009 Convention Main Page

Page last revised on Tuesday, 2010-Jun-01 15:19:31 -0400